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Jessica Helfand ’82, ’89MFA: designer observed

"My teeth aren’t in the glass yet!”

That was the reaction of Jessica Helfand ’82, ’89MFA, on learning that the American Institute of Graphic Arts is giving her its AIGA Medal for lifetime achievement on April 19. Still in her early 50s, Helfand is a studio designer, author, and cofounder of the leading blog Design Observer. At Yale, she’s a senior critic at the School of Art and a lecturer in Yale College, where teaches the freshman seminar “Studies in Visual Biography.”

The AIGA is honoring Helfand along with her husband and collaborator, William Drenttel—a senior faculty fellow at the Yale School of Management—and four others, including Yale School of Art critic Tobias Frere-Jones.

Given the technology that’s now available, “I would give anything to be an up-and-coming graphic designer today,” Helfand tells Yale News. Still, “The problem is that in a world where everybody feels compelled to share every five minutes, it’s easy for everyone’s work to look like Instagram. I try to convince my students that being in a studio alone is not a bad thing: It forces them to reckon with their own internal voice.”

Filed under Jessica Helfand, Design Observer, School of Art, AIGA, William Drenttel
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